MYANMAR is currently suffering a dip in tourist numbers, largely due to the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State over violence towards the Rohingya-Muslim community that has resulted in a mass exodus.
According to The Irrawaddy, the Union of Myanmar Travel Association president U Thet Lwin Toe said that some booked trips to Rakhine’s Ngapali Beach were canceled in the wake of the violence.
“Trips to other regions like Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake remain unchanged. If positive news could eliminate tourists’ fears of terrorist attacks, the situation would be better,” said U Thet Lwin Toe.
“There are worries that [tourists] may experience a terrorist attack or have difficulty traveling in the country.”
Sick to the stomach reading this. Why anyone would promote Myanmar tourism right now goes beyond me.
— Chris Schalkx (@CHRSSCHLKX) October 12, 2017
However, these cancelations is spurring tourism officials and agents to send out a “Myanmar is safe” message. Bordered areas such as Rakhine, and Kachin & Northern Shan are off-limits to tourists, but it’s business as usual in the popular capitals of Naypyidaw and Yangon.
Myanmar Tourism marketing chairman May Myat Mon Win was quoted in TTG Asia: “We hope for a speedy and peaceful resolution of the situation in Northern Rakhine. Meanwhile, we would like to assure travellers that Myanmar’s key tourist destinations and cities are safe.”
Meanwhile, Khiri Travel Myanmar managing director Edwin Briels said the country had always had restricted areas prior to media attention around the Rohingya crisis and wants to remind tourists that the country is still safe to visit.
“The Myanmar government has always been very concerned about the safety of foreigners visiting the country and it is impossible to accidentally travel to a restricted area. I do think that Myanmar continues to be one of the safest places on earth to travel,” he said.